Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Satan’

This Means War

In Life and Culture on December 3, 2013 at 9:19 am


I, and many others, have felt this way from time to time.  Maybe it is an old habit you can’t shake.  Maybe it is a sin you can’t stop.  Maybe an addiction/obsession you can’t quit.  Maybe a resolution you broke by Valentine’s Day.  The feeling of defeat is like being unable to take a breath.  There is a truth to be learned: when you want to do good, evil is right there too.  Don’t become paranoid.  However, we must understand that Satan will always be giving you the option, the temptation, to choose evil again.  Especially when you want to choose good, moral, and right things.  Nehemiah left his luxury to attend to the needs of his hometown.  He lamented in the ruins of Jerusalem and was determined by God to rebuild the city.  God wanted this done because the time of exile was almost up and the Israelites needed a place to go.  Nehemiah took the challenge and was obedient to God.  Immediately, there was opposition.

When you want to follow Christ, do not be fooled.  The Devil uses a variety of tactics to keep you from obedience.  In Nehemiah, we find different ways the opposition tried to get Nehemiah to quit.  He did not.  Let’s look at this together.

Ridicule – two men from the region came and began to make fun of what the people were doing.  When you want to choose right, there will be those who make fun of you.  They will say hurtful things in front of other people trying to embarrass you into falling back into old patterns.  Nehemiah prayed.

Threats – these same men threatened them with attack. Threats can be real.  Threats can turn into action.  Mostly, threats are made to attempt to paralyze you.  Nehemiah instructed the people to pray, watch, and work.  It is important that you do not ignore the threats, but also do not stop working your plan toward righteous behavior.

Deceit – a letter was sent to Nehemiah asking him to meet in a particular spot.  Often, we will be faced with people trying to deceive us.  These two wanted to kill Nehemiah.  They figured that without him everything would stop.  If you become so fixated on doing the right thing that you forget the higher purpose to which you were called, you will soon find yourself tired and guilty once again.  Nehemiah did not entertain them.  He stay focused on the job at hand.  You must stay focused on what God has called you to do and developing your relationship with Him.

Lies – There is not to see, but a lot to hear can be a description of many small towns.  The awful part is that when you try to do the right thing those who do not like it will resort to lies.  I have found myself in this spot a time or two, haven’t you?  People will just lie.  Nehemiah denied the allegations and refused to debate the issue with them.  Often we try to exonerate ourselves by debating with the opposition.  Actually, this just fuels their fire because of the attention-seeking disorder many have.  Deny the lie and move on.

Whatever you may be facing, prayer and focus are the answer.  Nehemiah prayed.  He stay focused.  He kept working.  If you are not facing a challenge right now, just wait.  If you are never facing challenges, you might want to evaluate who you are serving.  Your best protection against the enemy is faith in God’s strength and personal integrity.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

Credo Christia

In Life and Culture on November 5, 2013 at 11:29 am

christian-cross1

The Soldier’s Creed was updated in 2003 to read as follows:

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

 

When considering the journey we have with Jesus as a follower of Him, there are notable and significant similarities between the Soldier’s Creed and our life in Christ.  Consider this adjustment for Christianity:

I am a follower of Christ.

I am a soldier for Christ and a member of a local church.
I serve God and others and live the Biblical Ethic.

I place God in the center of my life.
I will not accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will not leave others behind.

I am a disciple, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my Christian gifts, ministries, and administrations.
I maintain my Bible reading, spiritual armor, and personal habits.
I am an expert and professional in what God has called me to do.
I am ready to go on mission, to share God’s love, and to tear down the walls of Satan.
I am a guardian of the Gospel and the Godly way of life.

I am a follower of Jesus.

Hi-Fidelity

In Chrisian Life on October 15, 2013 at 9:10 am

3520058673_916e83fb5a_z

High Fidelity: used by audio manufacturers as a marketing term to describe records and equipment which were intended to provide faithful sound reproduction.  I remember having one of these in the house as a kid.  I remember lying on the floor with the headphones singing “King Tut” at the top of my lungs!  This “Hi Fi” stereo system was supposed to play the LP’s as good as live.  High Fidelity sound was all the rage, much like the switch to digital is now.  Compared to the radio the music was crisp, clear, and wonderful.  You could listen to high quality music right in your own home.

Fidelity is something out of vogue these days.  In our disposable culture, we never keep things very long.  In this passage, Jesus models for us several different ways for us to be faithful.

1.  Jesus is faithful to His cousin.  There is something to be said that we should stick up for family.  Jesus didn’t have to do this.  He wasn’t required to be baptized because there was nothing for Him to repent for in His life.  He brought His family into His world as His formal ministry was inaugurated.  How often do we give our best to everyone else except our family?  Our family gets the short end.  Jesus went the other way.  do you?

2.  Jesus is faithful to His commander.  God the Father opened up Heaven and interjects at this point how pleased with Jesus He is.  At that moment Jesus is led to the wilderness.  No report of questions, whining, griping, or negotiations is revealed.  Jesus was faithful to God.  Whatever the Father wanted, Jesus was faithful to do.  I tend to question and negotiate.  God wants faithfulness even when there are no specifics.

3.  Jesus is faithful during conflict.  Running away is an oft chosen option.  We run away from home and move out.  We run away from responsibility and quit school or get an abortion.  We run away from conflict and get a divorce or sleep with someone who “cares”.  When things get rough we walk away.  Where is the faithfulness?  Where is the staying power?  Jesus was being tempted by Satan himself; no demons here.  He was getting pounded but stayed the course.  He did not run.  He did not hide.  He did not quit.  He was faithful.  Am I?  Are you?

4.  Jesus is faithful to His calling.  In the face of John’s incarceration, Jesus began doing that which God wanted Him to do.  He was not going to let a personal hiccup keep Him from doing what He was supposed to do.  It would have been easy to postpone.  It would have been easy to think next year.  Jesus was faithful to His calling.  God calls every person to make disciples of other people.  God gives you a job so that you can do that with your work associates.  He gives you interests and hobbies so that you can connect with those people to make disciples of them too.  He brings children into your life for you to get to know teachers, students, and other families to make disciples of them.  Are you faithful to your calling?

Jesus is hi-fi.  Are you?

Live Forgiven

In Chrisian Life, Faith, Journey on September 4, 2013 at 9:24 am

goldfish jumping out of the water

 

“I just want to be free!”

I heard this every Thursday for 3 years. In one form or another, the clients I counseled wanted their addiction to be kicked out and recovery kicked up a notch. As they approached the time to re-enter society, I would ask them about their plans. I could almost always guess the ones who would succeed and those who would not. It is so easy to get side-tracked. Whether you are in outpatient care or inpatient care life offers us a plethora of distractions. For many, the reason behind their addiction was not what they proposed. The reason for any addiction is following a path that seems right to you.

 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.  Proverbs 16:25

It is critical that an understanding of terms be reached before continuing. Having a bad habit is just a nice way to say you have an addiction. Your habit may not be illegal, but it can threaten your family, your finances, and ultimately your future. We, especially in the Christian community, like to minimize our sin and maximize others sin. We have bad habit. They have addictions. Let’s be clear, anything that is distracts you from your relationship with God is a sin.

“How do I break free?” This question has arisen many times and you may be asking it as well. Satan grips our mind with fear and our hearts with guilt and shame. In order to break free of your habit/addiction/sin, we must embrace the forgiveness of God as a reality, not rationale. Living forgiven is not a series of convincing statements that we chant every day. Living forgiven is about having faith in the sinlessness of Christ and the statement of the cross and empty tomb. Please do not misunderstand, becoming a follower of Christ does not automatically release the grip of Satan. What this decision of salvation does is provide the power and opportunity for those chains to be broken and for you to walk out of your prison. God provides the power. God provides the pathway. God provides. Yet, you have to get up and walk.

Jesus asked the man at the pool if he wanted to get well. The man began giving excuses of why he could not. Jesus looked at him and said to get up and walk. In that moment, he was completely healed. His legs had strength. His arms had strength. However, until he chose to get up and walk he would lie on that mat. In Christ, you have been healed of your issues. But to walk free is your choice to make. The sad reality is people refuse to believe in the power of Christ and remain in the grips of Satan through fear, shame, and guilt. God has wiped all of that away. When will you walk?

As you prepare to get up and walk here are a few things to help steady your feet.

 1. Avoid your triggers. What is it that makes you consider engaging your habit? Is it certain places? Is it certain smells? Is it certain people? Is it certain situations? In order to walk in forgiveness, these must be avoided. For those who believe they can handle it, you can’t. Avoid the triggers. Change your job. Change your routine. Change your sleep schedule. Change begins with you engaging the power of God provided through Jesus Christ.

2. Make new friends. I have heard it said that you are the average of your 5 closest friends. With that being said, develop new friendships that drive you closer to Christ. Releasing an old set of friends affords you the opportunity for personal growth and more probable success in this endeavor.

3. Realize your limitations. Believing you can handle your habits/sins/addictions is the first step to failure. If you could have handled it on your own you wouldn’t be in this mess now. Coming before God and agreeing on your dependency to Him is vital. Our strength is limited but God’s is limitless. We fail but God never does. We sin but God never has. Why not embrace God? Pride arrives and then a fall.

Living forgiven is not about being flippant about your past. It is about embracing the offer of God in Christ and engaging the power of the Holy Spirit. The probability of sin remains high as long as we are in this life but it does not have to be the habit you had yesterday. Live free. Live forgiven.

Crooked Roads

In Chrisian Life on July 23, 2013 at 6:46 am

roadsign

Proverbs 3:6

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight

 

I think it was the moonshine!  I can’t prove it but I think it had something to do with it.  I grew up where the roads were not straight.  On the 8-mile road trip to one school I attended there were 2 “dead man” curves.  You would travel east to get west and south to get north.  As a child who cared?  As a burgeoning adult learning to drive it was something more important.  The first time I took my wife back home she got sick on the roads because of their curvy nature.  I had not yet adapted out of them and didn’t pay attention to my speed.  I was whipping around the corners and curves on nearly two wheels.  She was green and scrambling for a bowl!  When we moved to Oklahoma it was a vastly different situation. Because the state was divided up into sections the roads were laid out on one-mile squares and they were straight!  I recall the first couple of years remarking how easy it was to get around.

It was so much easier to go straight!  While I understand that roads go around the mountains rather than through them for economic reasons they are still easier to travel straight.  So many times my life has felt like that road sign.  I twist and turn instead of just going straight!  The Bible says to acknowledge, or think about, the Lord in all of our ways and He will make our paths straight.  Consider these areas of your life:

  • Marriage / Dating
  • Parent and/or Child
  • Work or School
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Passions
  • Recreational Choices
  • Vocabulary and Speech

The Bible says that we are to acknowledge Him.  What does that mean?  I am sure it does not mean a casual wink-wink- nudge-nudge affair.  To acknowledge God is to recognize His position.  If you have placed faith in Jesus and turned over your life to God then He holds the highest position.  Before faith, Satan owned you and made you feel warped and crooked.  Now that you have placed faith in Jesus, God owns you and wants to make those paths straight.

Demolition.  In order to do that the old road has to be demolished so a new road can be put into place.  There is no use trying to sort out what can and can’t be used of that crooked path we called a life.  Let it be demolished and a new one put in its place.  There will be sentimental value in some areas but the price you pay is far less than the pain of regret.

Dig.  The straight road often goes through the mountains rather than around.  God wants to tunnel through some of your issues and problems.  In God’s economy this is the best option.  He can afford the upfront cost and understands that a straight road travels faster than a crooked one.

Develop.  A new road must be built and begins with layering the dirt and packing it down.  A good foundation is required otherwise the road will fall apart.  The Bible says that Jesus is that firm foundation

Drive.  Out on the open road of forgiveness and freedom is exhilarating!  Get in.  Buckle up.  Hold on.  Throw your head back and laugh with the Lord Jesus today!

Which Dog Are You Going To Feed?

In Decisions, Direction on June 1, 2013 at 7:40 am

dogfoodBo lived out in the country and loved it. He would get up early every Summer morning grab his fishing pole and head to the creek. His mother wouldn’t see him until he got hungry which didn’t usually take to long. When he wasn’t jumping hay bales, he was burning ants, climbing trees, or going on some adventure with his dog Max

One morning he was putting out food for his dog when strange one stepped out from the shadows. Startled, Bo dropped the food and stepped back. He had not seen this dog before. By the look of him, he had not been fed for a while. Snarling and growling the two dogs lowered their heads, pinned their ears back and two stared at each other for what seemed like eternity. Bo left the food and walked away that day.

After a few days, the black dog warmed up to the new environment and did not growl as often. Bo was able to feed without problem. However the two dogs never did seem to get along no matter what Bo did. The black dog had a look in his eye that would scare Bo now and then. He named him Malus. The name just came to him.

Returning from an adventure with Max, he found Malus. Honestly, Bo wondered if Malus found him. He was not in the usual spot and was angry. His lips raised to show teeth. He bark was mean and loud and that terrified Bo. Max stiffened and prepared to attack. Bo brought some food out and the two quieted down. Unsure of what to make of it, Bo went in to eat.

Days turned to weeks and the heat of Summer kept rising. Bo discovered that Malus wasn’t that bad as long as Max wasn’t around. It seemed the two dogs would never become friends. Bo’s Dad came out one day and asked Bo a question.

“Which dog are you going to keep?”

Bo wanted them both. He like the adventures with both Max and Malus. He had started going out one day with Max and the next with Malus. The stories he would tell at school were going to be epic! He could never take them both. Now his Dad was asking him to choose. Choose? Why did he have to choose? Why couldn’t he continue with this plan? Why couldn’t he keep both? As he struggled with this question, he fell asleep. The next morning, he awoke as the sun filled his room. He threw on some clothes and went outside. Coming to the backside of the barn he heard something strange. The dogs were fighting again. Bo just did not understand why they couldn’t get along. He had to admit that he noticed both wanted his attention. Everyday he would come and pick one to go out for the day. How was he going to choose? Would he choose Max, the one who had loved him his whole life? Would he choose Malus, the strange new dog who had a mean streak? Would he choose Max, who had been his faithful friend? Would he choose Malus, who would try to pick a fight?

In each one us lies two dogs. You will either love the one and hate the other or serve the one and not the other. You cannot live with both. Like Bo, you must choose which dog you will feed. The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia.

 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Which dog will you feed today?

The Devil Doesn’t Care About You

In Humor, Parenting, Trust on May 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm

trust-fall-800x250

I was at a youth camp as a kid when the “trust falls” were starting to be used often. You remember those? There were several variations:

  •  The group would make two lines and lock arms across the gap between. The idea was that one “chosen” person would step up on a stump or ledge fairly high and turn their back to the group. After crossing their arms across the chest a deep breath was taken. On the count of 3 they would stiffen and fall back. The group was supposed to catch you.
  •  The gentler version was to simply have them stand on the same level and fall back into the arms of the group.
  •  The kiddie version was to blindfold them and take them on a walk using only the voice.

These three activities all have the same theme: trust. You trusted the group/person to take care of you.  What if they didn’t? What if they didn’t care? What if they just let the person fall? Serious injury to occur!  So often, I hear people talk about how the devil was out to get them. Of course, 1 Peter 5:8 is quoted.

The devil is a prowling lion seeking whom he may devour.

That is true. He is. Satan wants to devour. He is roaming the Earth hungry and looking for prey. How many of you think that is you? Of course you do. I did for a long time. The stresses of life are huge!

  • when salaries get cut
  • relationships stumble
  • health issues rise
  • miscarriages
  • misconduct
  • addictions
  • obsessions

All of these make us think that Satan is after us. We bow up and get courageous and say “It’s on like Donkey Kong Satan!”.

Here’s the problem: he doesn’t care about you. Please pause and consider that for a second. Satan does not care about you. He is not concerned with you to the degree you believe. He is not after you. He does not stroll through the deserts of Hell thinking up means of getting you.  You know what he wants?  You want to know why you face stress?  You want to know why temptations come in person and virtually?  You want to know why the cold one becomes 12?

Because he wants your kids. It is not about the job, the money, or the marriage. It is not the addictions, obsessions, and passions. Stop focusing on getting better for you.

Make the necessary adjustments because it is for your kids.

Hi-Fi Jesus

In Faithfulness, Jesus on December 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm

scam10

High Fidelity: used by audio manufacturers as a marketing term to describe records and equipment which were intended to provide faithful sound reproduction.  I remember having one of these in the house as a kid.  I remember lying on the floor with the headphones singing “King Tut” at the top of my lungs!  This “Hi Fi” stereo system was supposed to play the LP’s as good as live.  High Fidelity sound was all the rage, much like the switch to digital is now.  Compared to the radio the music was crisp, clear, and wonderful.  You could listen to high quality music right in your own home.

Fidelity is something out of vogue these days.  In our disposable culture, we never keep things very long.  In this passage, Jesus models for us several different ways for us to be faithful.

1.  Jesus is faithful to His cousin.  There is something to be said that we should stick up for family.  Jesus didn’t have to do this.  He wasn’t required to be baptized because there was nothing for Him to repent for in His life.  He brought His family into His world as His formal ministry was inaugurated.  How often do we give our best to everyone else except our family?  Our family gets the short end.  Jesus went the other way.  do you?

2.  Jesus is faithful to His commander.  God the Father opened up Heaven and interjects at this point how pleased with Jesus He is.  At that moment Jesus is led to the wilderness.  No report of questions, whining, griping, or negotiations is revealed.  Jesus was faithful to God.  Whatever the Father wanted, Jesus was faithful to do.  I tend to question and negotiate.  God wants faithfulness even when there are no specifics.

3.  Jesus is faithful during conflict.  Running away is an oft chosen option.  We run away from home and move out.  We run away from responsibility and quit school or get an abortion.  We run away from conflict and get a divorce or sleep with someone who “cares”.  When things get rough we walk away.  Where is the faithfulness?  Where is the staying power?  Jesus was being tempted by Satan himself; no demons here.  He was getting pounded but stayed the course.  He did not run.  He did not hide.  He did not quit.  He was faithful.  Am I?  Are you?

4.  Jesus is faithful to His calling.  In the face of John’s incarceration, Jesus began doing that which God wanted Him to do.  He was not going to let a personal hiccup keep Him from doing what He was supposed to do.  It would have been easy to postpone.  It would have been easy to think next year.  Jesus was faithful to His calling.  God calls every person to make disciples of other people.  God gives you a job so that you can do that with your work associates.  He gives you interests and hobbies so that you can connect with those people to make disciples of them too.  He brings children into your life for you to get to know teachers, students, and other families to make disciples of them.  Are you faithful to your calling?

Jesus is hi-fi.  Are you?

The Stand

In Commitment, Decisions, Faithfulness on November 26, 2012 at 11:57 pm

12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.
As would any battle-tested leader, Satan will find the weakest point and attack.  We all have our weak spots, blind spots.  We all have our moments when we are weaker than at other times.  After a long week, Friday is an easy target.  After a particularly awful fight with your honey/loved one/spouse it is a weak moment for us.  Someone in your life dies, you lose a job, unexpected expenditure are all points of difficulty that can stretch our lives like a band.  You stretch it and the weak point is found because it changes color faster than the other parts.  Like war, we must be ready.  There are three things we must do if we are to be victorious.
1.  See it.  Tzu wrote, “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy, but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”  So often we are so focused on the enemy that we overlook out own weaknesses.  Be sure that he knows our weaknesses.  He sees you from that perspective completely fixed on that part of you that is weakest.  He waits for you to be tired and/or emotionally spent.  What is your weakness?  Is it rage?  Is it lying or gossip?  Is it alcohol or drugs?  Is it porn?  With what does Satan consistently trip you? Owning your weakness gives you a chance to take the next step.
2.  Strengthen it.  Tzu wrote, “To not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.”  Once we choose to be aware of our weak points, like a chink in armor, we can begin to shore up those areas.  A general will strengthen and protect a weak area thought to be susceptible to attack.  Why wouldn’t we?  In verse 13 above we see the word preparation.  We must prepare.  If we are going to strengthen our position it takes a bit of prep work.  How do we prep for an attack?  If you know your weakness, prepare to strengthen it.  Here are a few thoughts answering the most common moments of temptation.

  • Sleep more
  • Meditation/Prayer
  • Exercise/Yoga
  • Church/Community Service
  • Reduce stress
  • Accountability

3.  Solve it.  Tzu wrote, “Those skilled in war subdue the enemy’s army without battle. They conquer by strategy.”  Winning a war takes a battle at a time.  Some battles are won and others lost, but we must keep our eye on the prize that lays before us.  Victory is ours in Jesus Christ, thought ultimately it might not come until the afterlife.  We cannot quit.  We cannot give up.  We must keep fighting.  Winston Churchill gave a speech to the Harrow School in 1941 where he encouraged the people to never give in.

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period – I am addressing myself to the School – surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.
–Winston Churchill, 1941
%d bloggers like this: